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‘Confusing and unfair’ Covid lockdown fines could be overhauled under new plans UK News

A group of MPs called for a review of fines imposed at the height of the lockout.

MPs said the fines for coronavirus are “confusing, discriminatory and unfair” and the system “criminalizes the poor rather than the well-to-do”.

No Covid-19 fine should result in a criminal record, the Joint Human Rights Committee (JCHR) said.

A report from the group also expressed concerns about:

– Inadequate review and appeal process

– “Significant concerns” regarding the validity of fines

– The extent of the penalties

– The criminalization of those who cannot afford to pay

‘The government must make sure the rules are clear’

Committee chair Harriet Harman said: “Swift action to make the restrictions effective is essential in the face of this terrible virus.

“But the government needs to make sure that the rules are clear, that their application is fair and that errors in the system can be corrected.

“None of this is the case when it comes to Covid-19 fixed penalty notices.”

She acknowledged the “hard work” of police in enforcing the rules during the pandemic, but warned that there could be a greater number of wrongly imposed fines due to “a lack of legal clarity. “.

Ms Harman added: “This means that we have an unfair system with clear evidence that young people, those from certain ethnic minorities, men and the most socially disadvantaged, are most at risk.

“Those who cannot afford to pay face a criminal record with all the consequences for their future development.

“The whole process disproportionately affects the less well off and criminalizes the poor versus the better off.”

Reiterating calls for the government to “make a clear distinction between advice, guidance and the law,” she added: “Our investigation has shown that coronavirus regulations are neither straightforward nor easy to understand nor by those who need to. obey them, nor by the police who must apply them. them.

“With fixed penalties of up to £ 10,000, regardless of an individual’s financial situation, the stakes are high.

“The government must review the regulations relating to the pandemic and create new checks and balances to avoid errors and discrimination.”

Coronavirus rules ‘have changed 65 times since March 2020’

Coronavirus rules have changed at least 65 times since March 2020, offering “obvious challenges for police,” according to the report, and more than 85,000 fixed penalty notices have been issued during that time.

“It is possible to tell from the penalties that have not been paid and then progressed through the system to prosecution, that a significant number of FPNs are incorrectly issued,” the committee said.

The results highlighted a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) review of coronavirus regulatory prosecutions that ended in open court, which concluded in February 2021 that 27% had been wrongly charged.

The report added: “It is astonishing that the coronavirus law is still misunderstood and misapplied by the police to such an extent that every criminal charge laid under the law has been laid incorrectly.

“Although coronavirus regulations have changed frequently, the law has not, and there is no reason for such errors to continue.”

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This notice was published: 2021-04-28 06:00:00